I’ve been wearing the Capilene® 2 Lightweight, during cold weather months for a full year now. As my baselayer of choice, I throw it on before heading out on an adventure in frigid temperatures, at higher elevations and in uncertain weather.
Made of 4-oz, 100% polyester (of which 54% is recycled), the “Cap 2,” as it’s affectionately referred to, is billed as having the fastest dry time out of all Patagonia’s performance baselayer fabrics.
I believe it. On numerous adventures, I’ve worked up a sweat hauling heavy gear over several miles on the trail. Recently, one such adventure involved an overnight stay at a shelter halfway up a mountain. A few minutes after arriving at our basecamp, my fellow travelers stripped down in the frosty air to change out of their wet undergarments. My baselayer that day was the Capilene® 2 Lightweight, and it had all but dried minutes after we called it quits.
The Cap 2 offers both wicking and odor control—and does a fine job of both. Mountain biking, even during the coldest winter months, is bound to make you sweat. Eventually, sweat leads to stench. Patagonia’s Gladiodor® Garment Odor Control reduces your stink so the only time you gasp for air is after you power up a decent climb.
In the past, I’ve gravitated towards wool baselayers. I made the switch to the polyester Cap 2 because I needed something a bit thicker for extra warmth when riding during New England’s never-ending winter season. Made with an open-knit design, this top did feel a bit rough next to skin when I first tried it on. However, after a couple washings, the texture has softened up quite a bit and offers a gentle touch to my wacked-out winter skin.
This baselayer is surprisingly lightweight for the amount of warmth it provides. I hardly notice it under my mid- or outerlayers. Others have mentioned being unsatisfied with this product because the back of the neckline sticks up, which lets in unwanted cool air. Though I do remember the neck not lying flat when I first tried on the Cap 2, the discrepancy was trivial enough for me to overlook it. Since I typically layer my Cap 2 with a midlayer and shell/jacket of some sort, I have never noticed a draft. Once again, I observed this baselayer to undergo a mini transformation after a few go-rounds in the washing machine. A few washings later and the neckline has relaxed entirely.
If you’ll be carrying a hydration pack or other backpack during your ride, rest assured that the strategically-placed seams will not be an issue. I’ve worn cold-weather baselayers in the past during winter bikepacking and backpacking trips whose ill-placed seams (which run from neck to shoulder) have imprinted the skin under my backpack straps and led to minor skin abrasions. The Cap 2 addresses this problem by having the seam run across the front of your body (from the neck to the armpit). Therefore, the weight of the hydration pack does not rest on a shoulder seam. Brilliant.
Patagonia notes that the higher the number, the warmer the garment is. So, the Capilene 2 would be one step warmer than the Capilene 1.
Function Meets Fashion
The Cap 2 is small enough to pack in a pannier or mid-sized hydration pack, should you wish to bring it with you as an additional layer. Even after pulling this balled-up garment out of my pack, the fabric doesn't wrinkle. Though style is subjective, I find this baselayer to be fashionable enough to wear out in public without feeling as if you’ve just rolled out of the woods.